Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- 1 large or 2 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)
- 1 cup milk (skim, 1%, or dairy-free)
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 8 oz. shell-shaped pasta (conchiglie)
- 2 cups kale, chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Breadcrumbs (for topping, optional)
- Extra cheese, freshly ground black pepper, and fresh thyme (for garnish, optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. In a large pot, boil the butternut squash cubes with milk, vegetable or chicken broth, and minced garlic over medium heat. Cook until the squash is soft and easily mashed.
3. While the squash is cooking, prepare the pasta according to the package instructions. Cook until al dente, adding the kale (if desired) in the last few minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and kale, then set aside.
4. Using a blender or food processor, puree the cooked butternut squash mixture (including the garlic and liquid) with Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper until smooth.
5. Stir in the grated Gruyère cheese and nutmeg.
6. Add the cooked pasta and kale to the cheese sauce, stirring until well combined.
7. Transfer the mixture to a large 9x13-inch or 3 to 4-quart baking dish.
8. Optionally, top the dish with breadcrumbs and an extra sprinkle of cheese.
9. Bake for about 25 minutes or until bubbly on the sides.
10. Remove from the oven and garnish with an extra sprinkle of cheese, freshly ground black pepper, and fresh thyme, if desired.
11. Serve hot and enjoy as a satisfying fall and winter weeknight meal!
Note: This recipe can be customized by adding cooked chicken, ground beef or turkey, or sliced chicken sausage for additional protein. Optional toppings include pepitas (pumpkin seeds), cooked and crumbled bacon, or pine nuts.